April 2023

OTL Announcements

Registration Now Open for 34th Teaching and Learning Innovations Conference 

TLI Registration Banner

Please join us for two engaging days of workshops, concurrent presentations, panels, and posters on May 17-18, 2023.  The theme of the 34th Teaching and Learning Innovations Conference, Successes, Challenges, and New Ideas: Effective Approaches in Teaching and Learning, will focus on how teaching and learning endeavours have persevered and evolved during the pandemic. In addition to presenting a variety of innovations, TLI 2023 will be a time for reflection together to unpack and collectively exhale after three years. Register here for TLI 2023

On Wednesday, May 17, we will connect in person at the University Centre for panels, workshops, presentations and posters. On Thursday, May 18, a different set of workshops and presentations will be delivered synchronously online, and a panel session will be held in hybrid format. For the schedule, program and registration link, please visit the 2023 TLI Conference Webpage.   

Registration will remain open until May 17. Links for access to the sessions will be emailed to registrants no less than 1 week prior to the start of the conference. Questions? Connect with us at otl@uoguelph.ca 

Announcing the UofG University Teaching Leadership Fellows Awardees 

The Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) is delighted to announce the selection of the UofG 2023 University Teaching Leadership Fellows. The Fellows are a distinguished and cross-disciplinary community of educators who act as institutional change agents by engaging in educational leadership, research, advocacy, networking, service, and mentoring to promote educational excellence. The Fellows will lead and support teaching initiatives and contribute to college and institutional cultures of open discourse and critical reflection about teaching, learning, and student success. 

The University Teaching Leadership Fellows awardees are: 

  • Ruben Burga, Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, Department of Management 

  • Ryan Clemmer, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, School of Engineering 

  • Shoshanah Jacobs, College of Biological Science, Integrative Biology 

  • Mathew LaGrone, Guelph-Humber, Liberal Studies, Department of History 

  • Kate Parizeau, College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, Department of Geography, Environment, and Geomatics 

  • Melanie Parlette-Stewart, McLaughlin Library, Learning and Curriculum Support 

  • Kathleen Rodenburg, Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management 

  • Julie Vale, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, School of Engineering 

Congratulations to the 2023 University Teaching Leadership Fellows! 

Upcoming Programming

Featured Teaching and Learning Innovations Conference Panels 

TLI 2023 will feature three panels, two of which will focus on the impact of artificial intelligence on higher education and assessments, and one to close the conference on the future of higher education. 

On Wednesday, May 17, our morning panel “The Future Is Now! Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education” will provide context and perspectives to how AI affects teaching and learning, both its potential and limitations, as well as ethical implications and associated risks. The panel will feature Christa Morrison, a Business Systems and Digital Pedagogy Specialist from McMaster University, Kevin Matsui, the Managing Director of the UofG’s Centre for Advancing Responsible and Ethical Artificial Intelligence (CARE-AI), Dr. Graham Taylor, CARE-AI's Co-Director, Canada Research Chair and Professor of Engineering, and Jacob Claessens, a Systems and Computer Engineering graduate student, and founder of Oriole AI. 

The afternoon panel, “Now What? Artificial Intelligence and Assessments” will feature Dr. Kerry Richie, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences and the Director of the College of Biological Sciences Office of Educational Scholarship and Practice (COESP), Brandon Sabourin, Educational Developer in the Office of Teaching and Learning, Carson Johnston, a fifth-year Bachelor of Arts Honours student majoring in Philosophy, and Kelsy Ervin, a PhD candidate in Neuroscience and writing consultant TA for the Library’s Writing Services. 

Our Thursday, May 18 panel the Associate Vice President (Academic) Dr. Byron Sheldrick will moderate a discussion on “What Path Do We Take? The Future of Higher Education.Dr. Mary Wilson, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University will be in conversation with Dr. Jade Ferguson, Associate Dean of Academic Equity and Anti-Racism, and Patricia Tersigni, Director, Academic Programs and Policy in the Office of Quality Assurance. This panel will be conducted in a hybrid format, where you can attend in person on campus, or online. 

For further details about the panels, conference schedule and registration link, please visit the 2023 TLI Conference Webpage.   

Inquire Certificate in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning - 2023 Program Starting May 23rd 

The Inquire Certificate in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is a 16-month program open to U of G faculty and staff who would like to conduct a research project related to their teaching. This year’s Inquire Program will begin on May 23rd with a 3-day kick-off workshop, where participants will develop a research question, design their research method, and think through the ethical considerations for their project. The graphic below displays the components of the Inquire program from May 2023 to August 2024.  

Applications for the Inquire program are being accepted until Friday April 21st. Please apply by emailing the Inquire application form to otl@uoguelph.ca  

Focus on Universal Design for Learning

Additional Universal Design Tools, Part 2 

Universal Design for Assessments (UDA), or Universal Test Design, focuses on making assessments accessible to the greatest number of students. UDA was developed by researchers at the National Center for Educational Outcomes to make large-scale assessments more equitable and accessible, but the principles could apply to any type of assessment. The researchers recommended instructors implement the following seven principles, expanded in this 2002 study:  

  1. Inclusive assessment population, that is, designing assessments that are as equitable as possible to all students completing the assessments

  1. Precisely defined constructs that an assessment measures, avoiding unnecessary or ambiguous concepts that may create barriers to students achieving learning objectives. 

  1. Accessible, non-biased items that are sensitive to the diversity of learners, particularly from equity-deserving groups. 

  1. Amenable to accommodations, while retaining the essential requirements or learning objectives of the course and program. 

  1. Simple, clear, and intuitive instructions and procedures to ensure they’re consistently understood by learners. 

  1. Maximum readability and comprehensibility, such as logically organizing ideas, shorter sentences, defining technical terms, and using familiar words. 

  1. Maximum legibility, ensuring that text, graphs, tables, and illustrations are deciphered as easily as possible using appropriate type sizes and contract, for example. 

While emphasizing maximizing accessibility, UDA acknowledges accommodations will continue to be required according to specific students’ needs. The clear goal is for instructors and academic leaders to be mindful of the ways in which assessments are constructed to make them more accessible, equitable, and inclusive. To consult further on designing assessments applying universal design principles, please contact our educational developer Christopher Laursen at laursenc@uoguelph.ca

Meet an Educational Developer

Meet an Educational Developer

Each month, we will feature a member of the Office of Teaching and Learning team in a brief interview. For more information about each Educational Developer’s portfolio, please visit our website.

Brandon Sabourin, Educational Developer  

What do you do as an Educational Developer in OTL? 

In my role, I am involved in curriculum development and outcomes assessment for the DVM program at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). This involves working with faculty and staff to develop aligned courses and assessing student learning in relation to program outcomes, accreditation standards, and disciplinary competencies. I also support the teaching and learning aspects of various curricular projects that arise. Beyond OVC, I facilitate Instructional Skills Workshops and Facilitator Development Workshop for U of G faculty, staff, and graduate students.  

What pathway did you take to your career as an Educational Developer?  

After completing my Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees, I felt that high school teaching wasn’t quite the right fit for me. I decided to pursue a Master of Education degree, and it was as a graduate student that I was first provided opportunities to teach and do research in higher education. I immediately felt that postsecondary teaching was where I wanted to be. I enrolled in many workshops and courses offered by the UWindsor Centre for Teaching and Learning and started doing research on postsecondary teaching and learning.  

I spent the majority of my doctoral studies teaching in the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor and the School of Community Studies at St. Clair College. During this time, I taught dozens of courses on topics including digital technology and social media in the classroom, instructional technology, and special education programming techniques. Those teaching experiences gave me time to develop myself as a postsecondary educator, and I continued to participate in, and later facilitate, educational development workshops and programming. I was fortunate to have great mentors along the way that encouraged me to think about educational development as a career, where my experiences and skillset could be used to support teaching and learning. 

My first full-time position in educational development began in May 2020 when I joined Red River College Polytechnic as an Instructional Designer and later, an Educational Developer. The opportunities I had to teach, develop programs, and promote positive change in the institutional teaching and learning culture at RRC Polytech affirmed my decision to make educational development my long-term career. In 2022, I joined the Office of Teaching and Learning where I’m proud to work with a great team that champions teaching and learning excellence here at the University of Guelph!  

What interests you about teaching and learning?  

I find the complexity of teaching fascinating. Unlike many other disciplines, teaching is contextual and affected by the identities of the people involved in the teaching and learning process. Specifically, I’m interested in how educators’ approaches to teaching and what they believe the purpose of teaching is. That might sound simple, but too often there are tensions between the two based on other factors: time, money, reputation, etc. For example, my doctoral work explored how sessional instructors approach their teaching and whether that affects how they engage in educational development. What I found is that there are some correlations between those two, but in many cases, sessionals struggle to work against a system designed to maintain a level of precarity. I think that educational development offers some opportunities to support sessionals as they teach within systems that are restrictive or difficult to navigate.  

You’ve taught as a sessional, and you research sessionals’ experiences. What advice would you give to sessional instructors?  

When I began teaching as a sessional, I spent a long time trying to find my place in the institutions I taught at. I wanted to do a great job teaching, but I also wanted to be seen as a colleague. These experiences are what led me to my doctoral research exploring what effective educational development for sessionals might look like. For me, it meant getting involved in the life of the department, and in some cases, creating a departmental culture that values talking about teaching and learning when one didn’t exist. If you’re a sessional, I encourage you to take every opportunity you can to develop your teaching (realizing that you need to protect your unpaid time). Find a mentor or a faculty member with whom you can have discussions about teaching and learning. In the classroom, I encourage you to take the time to try out new or “new to you” teaching strategies. Taking the time to find what works for you based on your beliefs about teaching is important. Finally, feel welcome to reach out to us at OTL. We’re here to support you! 

Featured Teaching Resource

Time to Reflect on Your Teaching 

The end of the semester can be a good time to reflect on your teaching. Think about what went well this semester. What might you want to do differently in the future? Reflective teaching involves thinking about and questioning how and why we teach the way we do, including questioning assumptions, beliefs, and theories that underlie our teaching (Hubball, Collins, & Pratt, 2005). Reflection should be on-going and bound to context. In other words, reflections about teaching a small graduate-level seminar course may not be directly applicable to a large 1st year lecture course. Reflection can also be evidence-based, for example, through a review of student feedback questionnaires, a classroom observation performed by a peer, your own teaching notes, or student grades. We recommend using a variety of evidence to inform your reflections, and using caution when relying on feedback from a small group of students. Our website has more information about interpreting feedback from student feedback questionnaires

As you reflect on your teaching, consider creating or updating your Teaching Philosophy Statement. A Teaching Philosophy Statement is a brief written document (typically 1 - 2 pages) that clearly communicates an instructor’s fundamental values and beliefs about teaching and learning. It outlines how these beliefs are demonstrated through their teaching practice. This guide from the Taylor Institute at the University of Calgary provides excellent guidance for developing a Teaching Philosophy Statement. To get started in thinking about your teaching, consider first completing the Teaching Philosophy Inventory self-report questionnaire, and then answering these reflection questions. Reach out to an Educational Developer at otl@uoguelph.ca to talk to us about your Teaching Philosophy Statement or how to develop as a reflective teacher. 

Featured SoTL Snapshot

As you reflect on your teaching, keep in mind that students value characteristics such as empathy, relatability, and approachability in instructors. This SoTL Snapshot summarizes a qualitative study where students described the importance of ‘caring instructors’ in motivating them to learn. Students described ways that instructors show that they care about their students, including through displaying enthusiasm and using active learning techniques in class. Whether you are writing a teaching philosophy statement or updating your teaching portfolio, don’t discount your role as a caring individual in a student’s life. 

Reflections on Pedagogy: Musings for Educators 

“Teachers care for students when they (i.e. the teachers) are attentive to the different voices of the students, and thus ensure that the students remain included in pedagogical encounters.” (Waghid, 2019, p. 5) 

Waghid, Y. (2019). Towards of Philosophy of Caring in Higher Education: Pedagogy and nuances of care. Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-03961-5 

For more teaching resources or to chat with an Educational Developer, visit our website at otl.uoguelph.ca or contact otl@uoguelph.ca.